learning

Learning About Teaching While at a Rodeo

Yep, you read that correctly. I learned a few things this weekend, while traveling roughly 2,000 km with my husband to a handful of rodeos through Saskatchewan and Alberta.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a barrel racer. It’s a sport I’ve competed in since I was 4 years old and it’s one that I enjoy immensely. It keeps me sane while keeping me on my toes.

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My early barrel racing career

This year I am competing on a horse that was raised by my sister and trained by yours truly. Her name is Jellybean. She is 5, will turn 6 on the Fourth of July. We have had our ups and downs and things are truly uncertain when hauling a young horse to rodeos.

She and I made a run at a semi-pro rodeo in Saskatchewan on Friday. We were placing (which is super exciting, considering this was her 6th rodeo ever) against some of the best horses competing in Canada. We then traveled to a few rodeos to watch my husband compete. We returned to Saskatchewan on Sunday to compete at a different semi-pro rodeo.

I was so excited on Sunday morning, we were at an outdoor arena, one of the first of the season, and we were still hanging in for a cheque at the first rodeo of the weekend.

About twenty competitors before I was set to go, Jellybean began to limp. I got off, called my husband over and we began checking over what was wrong. We couldn’t find anything visible but I unsaddled her and we began caring for her.

My husband’s horse is also a barrel horse. I’ve competed on him several times over the last year or so. We get along pretty well. So when my husband suggested that I jump on Buzz to make my run, I went with it.

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Video screenshot of me and Buzz in action on Sunday

Teaching, like barrel racing, sometimes presents scenarios where Plan A isn’t working and we need to move on to a new plan. We shouldn’t be afraid of improvisation and responding to the needs of our students. At the end of the day, we can create beautiful lesson plans that hit every indicator and outcome that do always engage our students. What works for one class may not always work for another group of students.

Don’t stress. Assess the situation, respond and try your best. That’s all we can do as human beings. Sometimes the most memorable material or skills are the ones that pop up unexpectedly.

Teachable moments are priceless and we should engage in those moments every chance we get.

I know, this is a silly post. I legitimately had a light bulb-epiphany-ah-ha moment while driving home on Sunday and I just had to share!

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I want to ditch the textbook

Just an update on what I’ve been doing since my ECMP355 class ended, I am on a temporary contract in a small rural school in southern Saskatchewan. I am teaching world history, middle years social studies, and a few other courses. Needless to say, I am pretty busy.

21395471761_c9ee04d057_m Photo Credit: Catface27 Flickr via Compfight cc

Since I am so busy, I have been relying on the textbook for the world history course. I kind of hate it. The textbook is almost as old as I am, and rather outdated. I also really hate how one sided it presents “world” history. Right now, we are learning about imperialism in Africa (I really want to expand that to imperialism across the globe, because the way it is presented it seems like imperialism only affected Africa). In the few chapters of imperialism in Africa, the textbook gives us three (3!!!!) paragraphs about resistance to imperialism. Did I mention that those three paragraphs are short and stilted? There isn’t very much information contained within those sentences.

My plan is to shift my approach as this unit goes on. I plan on using online sources such as Ditch That Textbook, TED Talks, the Fordham University Internet History Sourcebook , Stanford’s Read Like a Historian, and quite possibly a few other sources that I find along the way! I want my students to be able to ask questions and explore other viewpoints rather than just the one that is presented in the textbook. I want them to realize that not every source is reliable. Most of all, I want them to learn more than what gets them a good grade on the next test.

I will (hopefully) keep this updated as I move away from the textbook and focusing more on critical thinking and inquiry in my classroom.

Adventures of ECMP 355 (Summary of Learning)

I’m not sure one post or one video can explain all that I’ve learned this semester, but I worked with Brooke Stewart on creating a video or two where we tried to fully summarize what we have learned on this journey that is ECMP 355! Rural internet limitations means that we had to break up our summary of learning into two parts: the first being a Powtoon video where we go on a journey about learning about technology and the second, we reflect on a few things we couldn’t include in our Powtoon including coding, cyberbullying and a topic that is special to us- technology and rural schools.

 

I sincerely hope you enjoy our videos as much as I enjoyed creating them with my friend and neighbor Brooke!

My Contributions 

“How have you contributed to the learning of others?”

That is a very good question. It has been a long semester filled with ups and downs, indecision and a rather hectic schedule for me.

I will say that this is my weakest link. When my life got busy, my responses and comments got pushed to the side. I also have a tendency to lurk, seeing how others have solved the problem rather than answering the question being asked. I also felt limited by my lack of knowledge in this topic of technology. It took me awhile to actually comment on Google+. Below are some screenshots from comments I made and posts I shared on our Google+ community.

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I began the semester hating Twitter. I had tried using it as a personal account and I just didn’t “get it” but thanks to this class, I now love twitter! I love learning new things (especially about teaching) and meeting new people.

I shared a few sources with my #ECMP355 classmates like Love, Joy, Feminism and Youtube extensions for teachers (see embedded Tweet above). I also helped a few classmates learn more about a particular ed tech tool- Flipgrid by Tweeting about the tool and created a topic using Flipgrid on which my fellow ECMP classmates could use Flipgrid as a student and respond to a prompt.

I also participated in a few Twitter chats such as #CVTechTalk and #imaginEDchat and I would love to keep participating in chats such as those in the future (when I can, Spring and Summer are hectic times for me due to our ranch. We start calving in mid-March through May and then there’s seeding in the Spring and haying in the Summer in addition to our branding and helping our neighbors with theirs).

I love the Twitter chats because you see so many different opinions from a variety of sources (which I could see easier thanks to Tweetdeck!). These chats are also a way to expand your network  based on your interests (Social Studies, anyone? Social Justice? Teach like a Pirate??) which I think is great, I can learn better methods that are catered to the issues that pop up in a Social Studies/History classroom.

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I could have commented on more posts, but as I’ve said before, my life got busy and I pushed the interaction part of this class to the side. It is a terrible excuse, but I am owning that this was my weakness and I could have done better.

My next post will be all about what I’ve learned! Stay tuned!

Blogging in the Classroom

So Skylar and I decided to create videos using Flipgrid for our conversation regarding blogging in the classroom.
I played a concerned parent and the points of my video are:

  1. student privacy- Is my child going to be exposed to potential predators?
  2. The idea that what my child writes could have potential to hurt them in the long run (think about Justine Sacco and the backlash from one Tweet)
  3. Is blogging really necessary? Is this vital to my child’s education or is it just a fad? Is the instructor going to have enough time and energy to devote to overseeing students when they blog.

Skylar responded to my video! It is so cool to see different videos on a topic. I just wish those videos were longer than a 1:30! I was in a room that wasn’t very quiet with no headphones and so I love the idea that Flipgrid makes a transcript of every response! The transcript may be inaccurate thanks to developing technology but I’d like to thank IBM Watson for trying his best anyway!

isam just responding to your post about blocking ends at the classroom and as a parent myself I think you know it it’s natural for us to to be concerned about a child and especially you know with the stories of Amanda Todd or just you stay cool you know about about how we’re leaving you know it to doodles like Frank and I think that as a teacher privacy privacy settings and controls are greater importance we must be careful when choosing our privacy options especially for how great you know when having our students while you were at different assignments or you know I am I think when introducing flocking to my students that it’s definitely a a great opportunity to first educate them on digital identity you know discussing online safety and privacy with students as well as discussing arm digital footprint that you may be creating I also think that having the parents involved will be an important step as well you know to student success for a blogging perhaps having the parent teacher interaction will help motivate the students learn more I’d definitely think that there’s a lot of positives to that as well that can come from blogging inside the class

In addition to the points that Skylar made in her video response, I wanted to add a few things. Blogging and the creation of a digital portfolio can add so much to a student’s education and set them up for success after high school (whether it be college readiness or career readiness). George Couros makes some valid points in his post 5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog” I am going to re-hash most of what he said and add a bit of my own ideas into the mix as well.

Blogging can improve literacy with different mediums, making students better digital citizens while exposing them to various tools such a YouTube, Flickr and a host of others that can be related to blogging.

Blogging can also help with the development of student voice and encourage reflection about learning. With blogging, students can be a part of a community and through community (commenting, etc) there can be an exchange of ideas and those students can learn from each other. Students can initiate change through their blogging and the exchange of ideas. This shows them that they aren’t “just a kid” and that they can make their own environments better with their ideas (Like the creator of “Sit With Us”).

Blogging can also serve as an archive of student learning. All your posts are saved and organized by tag, category and date! They can see how far they’ve come from grade 9, or see what they learned in grade 10 science; it is all there on their own page! I kinda wished I had an archive like that off my classes from university or even high school! This leads us to the development of a positive digital footprint for our students. Let’s create one before someone else does it for us. Let’s fill the web with positive stuff instead of negative.

I also think blogging in the classroom could be a great set up for teaching our students 21st Century skills for both career and college readiness. Students learn:

  1. About tagging and using categories- for post viewing ease and webpage organization
  2. Development of networks (like my PLN on Twitter or my network of fellow “hipsters” who struggle with FAI and labral tears of the hip)
  3. Résumé building, or using their blog webpage as a résumé where they can show off their skills.
  4. Skill ownership and the importance of communication. Students can say “I know how to do this!” and student created blogs can serve as a way for parents to check up on what their children are learning (depending on the privacy settings).
  5. Privacy and how to control who can see what.
  6. Intellectual property and appropriate usage and the need to cite sources, photographs, etc.

Overall, I see many positives for blogging in the classroom with the appropriate lessons to students about privacy, writing to an audience, post appropriateness. As long as the instructor takes the time and the steps to set students up for success, I can see blogging being very beneficial for students.

 

Failure as a teacher

With the weather being kinda crappy out, I decided I might as well work on my learning project. 

I decided to tackled this tutorial on the Engraving Forum. It is a step by step demo of the basic western bright cut engraving. 

Screenshot taken from hand engraving forum


I quickly realized this basic tutorial isn’t as easy as the engraving forum members made it out. I am a raw beginner, working for the first time with brass with limited tools. Most of the members are either professionals, or have been practicing for awhile. 

Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.

 Morihei Ueshiba

I did give it a try, despite missing some of the tools listed. 

I sharpened my tools, put a piece on my vise and began. I failed. Miserably. 

Wiggle engraving the backbone was step one.


Step one went fairly well. Wiggle graving is a skill I know how to do. After that, I was lost. My graver slipped (a few times) resulting in scratches. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t make cuts like the author. 

This reminded me of teaching in a classroom setting. We will have students who struggle, who fail at tasks, and who wrestle with a concept. We need to help them learn to wrestle with hard concepts and not give up on learning just because it’s hard. 

A picture of my failure.


I failed today, but I won’t quit. I will go tool shopping (who doesn’t like shopping?) and learn more about engraving and practice more. 

Who else has struggled with something to do with their learning projects? 
PS: I just had an epiphany about making sure we have all the tools before implementing something new in our classroom such as a new app or piece of technology! 

Digital Citizenship

What makes a good digital citizen? This is the question that I have been pondering for the last week. I haven’t come up with a conclusive answer and so this blog post is late for that reason. I decided that maybe I need to break down the term and work from there. So my new question is, why makes a good citizen?

According to technologystudent.com characteristics of a good citizen includes respect for others and their property, being helpful and considerate, listens to the views of others and respects what they have to say (even if those opinions differ), helps those who cannot help themselves, is hardworking, respectful to the environment and is willing to learn.

The question now is, how can I see a citizen with a digital lens?

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Photo Credit: Cross Duck Flickr via Compfight cc

I think the first thing we need to think about is respect. As a digital citizen, it is important to have respect for the other human beings we interact with online. Let us be kind to each other when commenting or messaging and let us respect intellectual property. We need to remember that the usernames we interact with are (usually) linked to real people sitting behind the screen. In short, be kind and don’t steal pictures.

The good digital citizen is kind and considerate, doesn’t that sound familiar? Do not be afraid to help your fellow citizen. Answer questions, begin conversations with your fellow people instead of just “liking” their photos. The cool thing about technology is that we can bridge (physical) distances and learn so much from other people around the world (how cool is that?!?)

In addition to engagement, our digital citizen should be respectful towards others, especially when opinions differ (politics, anyone?). In other words, don’t be a troll.

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Image taken from here

The digital citizen is respectful towards the environment, and I think I’ve covered that under the basic umbrella of respect.

Being willing to learn is an important characteristic of not just digital citizens, but for everyone. Albert Einstein has be attributed with the quote “once you stop learning then you start dying. Whether or not he actually said that, it is a profound way to think about learning!

“All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.”
George Whitman

We can learn from anyone and we can learn lessons from anything, you just have to know how to look at things.

I know there are more potential characteristics of digital citizenship, but I thought this list was fairly comprehensive. What other characteristics of digital citizenship would you include?

Do the Twist, I mean, Wiggle

So today I found some inspiration in some nicknacks I had in my work room. This vintage concho was in my mother’s jewelry box and it somehow made its way into my hands. It is simple and it is beautiful, I just wish I had a use for it so I can show it off. 

Its beauty comes from its simplicity and how well the (unknown) artist used the space of the heart. The border and backbone of the scroll are created using a technique called “wiggling” with a flat graver. 

Although I thought I knew how to wiggle, I figured I better see how the pros do it before I scrap a practice piece. A short Google search later and I found this video:

He has a piece clearly in the frame and explains how to wiggle correctly. His video was fairly long (for my short attention span) but very informative. 

He explained that wiggling is “walking the tool” not just scribbling across the metal. You place a side of the tip of the tool “down then side to side.” It kinda reminded me of Chubby Checker doing the Twist. 

Chubby Checker performing “The Twist”. Image retrieved from MakeaGIF.com


The vlogger also mentions some things to watch when wiggle engraving. It is easy to get “out of whack” and if you’re worried about that happening, you should lay some guide lines out to follow. 

In addition to talking about wiggle graving, he instructs us on how to make simple wheat cuts (which is the basis for scrolls and leaves and all that cool jazz). This part really helped me to understand how to fill up a space and basic layout. 

Demonstrating a wheat cut. The wiggle engraving border is evident. Screenshot from video


What else helped me is he used a few different gravers and seemed to critique his work as he went along in the video. This helped me to reflect on my own work and how to improve it. I’ve been pushing the graver too far and making turns too sharp instead of making quick cuts and curves.  

An analysis of the concho shows the artist made the petals and leaves using short cuts and twists. 
So now that I have notes, a few visual aids and an idea, it is time for me to try wiggle graving. This is a change of plans, I was going to work on chasing today (that is using a hammer and graver), but the concho caught my eye and begged for me to try wiggling! 

It is hard to see, but I have a basic outline scratched out.


I’ll update with my attempt in a bit! Has anyone else been struggling with their learning project (either battling procrastination, hard to find sources, or the difficulty in general)? 

Quick update! 

So I did get to try chasing and wiggling today! The former teaching me that I’d need some different equipment to continue that route, mainly a different vise, and the latter is my new love! Why haven’t I tried this sooner?!? 

I’ve been fighting with my graver tips digging into my metal and getting caught. That doesn’t happen with wiggle graving! 

Top piece shows the first wiggle piece and my failed attempt at chasing (it bent the piece and gouged pieces out). Bottom shows a wiggle border.